It’s been a little while since my last post on the films of Shamim Sarif. I’ve been busy organising the Postcolonial Studies Association’s first ever Convention, held on campus at the University of Leicester and at College Court, the University’s state-of-the-art conference centre. The special topic of the convention was Diasporas, and we had top-notch plenary addresses by Prof John McLeod (University of Leeds) on transcultural adoption, Prof Paul Gilroy (King’s College London) on the current refugee crisis across the Mediterranean, and Dr Gayatri Gopinath on the aesthetics of queer diasporas, as well as excellent presentations reflecting on various forms of migration across the globe and from a wide range of disciplines, including Muslim perspectives. I’ve also started a new chapter of my current project on a film by British-Egyptian screenwriter and film director Sally El Hosaini entitled My Brother the Devil (2012), but more on this soon.
For now, I’d like to introduce a new series of events that has just started at the University of Leicester, called Queering Islam, organised by myself as the leader of my project on international representations of queer diasporic Muslims in fiction and film. The purpose of this series is twofold: to delve into the topic of Islam from a queer perspective of sexual non-normativity opening our eyes to the perspectives of Muslims in the diaspora; but also to bring these discussions to the wider public, making them available to both academic and general audiences. Although the programme’s development is ongoing and events will be gradually ‘unveiled’ (pun only partly intended), we already have some exciting events planned, so please read on.
Queering Islam opened yesterday with a great inaugurating lecture by Dr Samar Habib (Research Associate at SOAS, University of London) entitled ‘States of Being: Narratives of Queer Diaspora in Contemporary Scholarship’ which delivered far more than the title promised, examining the current fraught relationship between ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’ and the troubled role of homosexuality within this dialogue, as well as the various forms of prejudice that queer diasporic Muslims have to face, including compelling reflections of her own experience as a Palestinian non-Muslim once living in Australia. An audiovisual recording of the lecture and the ensuing (and very lively!) Q&A will follow soon, as well as a link to our interview with BBC Radio Leicester, which I’ll be posting very shortly.
More events in the series will include: an address by Prof Rusi Jaspal (De Montfort University), a world-leading social psychologist working on the mental impact of tensions between sexual orientation and ethno-religious identity in queer Muslims in the diaspora; a screening of Shamim Sarif‘s I Can’t Think Straight, including a video link with Sarif for a discussion with the audience; and a reading of a story, ‘The Tulip Asylum’, about homosexuality in Iran, by Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. Her talk will include her reflections on her Muslim LGBTIQ advocacy in Britain and her development of the Inclusive Mosque initiative.
I hope you feel, like I do, that this is a very exciting line-up. I’m really honoured to be able to host such distinguished speakers, so please stay tuned for dates and details. Everyone is welcome at our events, which are open to the general public, so please join us!